Burke Museum Home

Reptiles of Washington

Loggerhead turtle
(Caretta caretta)

What they look like

  • Loggerhead turtles are the second-largest of all turtles (behind leatherback turtles), with a shell length of nearly one meter and weight of around 250 pounds. They have large heads equipped with powerful jaws. Their upper body is reddish-brown and their lower body is usually pale yellow.

Where they live

  • Loggerhead turtles can be found throughout the world’s oceans, except for those near the poles. Even though they prefer habitats near the coast, they can just as easily be seen swimming through inland waters or miles out into sea.

What they eat

  • Jellyfish, conchs, crabs, and fish form the majority of their diet, but they will also feed on seaweed occasionally.


  • Sometime between late April and early September, females return miles back to the ocean beach they were born to lay their eggs. They dig 3 to 6 nests during each season, laying around 100 to 126 eggs in each of them. The young hatch after about 60 days.

Cool Biology Facts

  • Loggerhead turtles have been documented migrating across the entire Pacific Ocean!
  • Turtle Excluder Devices (TED) are being attached onto some shrimp nets to help lower the chances of loggerhead turtles getting entangled in them.



Despite being the most abundant marine turtle species in U.S. waters, loggerhead turtles are considered “threatened” in the United States and “endangered” internationally. Their major threats include loss of nesting habitat due to coastal development, accidental capture in fish and shrimp nets, and pollution.